Schools will have 2-3 times as many fire drills this year with cohort system in place

Schools will have 2-3 times as many fire drills this year with cohort system in place

BOSTON — As students head back to school there are all sorts of new protocols. But State Fire Marshal Peter Ostroskey said those protocols all have to comply with the state fire code.

“The fire code and the building codes have not changed,” Ostroskey said. The fire marshal has been working with state and local agencies to make sure fire codes are not compromised.

“Today we are in a good place where good safety practices are in play,” Ostroskey said. “We don’t want to defeat those for another purpose. We can accomplish both goals.”

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For example, classrooms that are reconfigured for social distancing cannot block fire exits. When hallways or stairwells are designated one way for social distancing, students need to know they can go in either direction if there was ever an emergency. School districts will still be required to do at least four fire drills a year. But with students coming back in separate groups, or cohorts, those drills will have to be done for each group – so there will be two or three times as many per year.

“With the two or three cohort system, they would have to multiply that four by that number so all occupants exercise those plans,” Ostroskey said. The fire marshal is also urging families to work on home escape plans especially with so many students studying home in the new hybrid school systems.

“Make sure you have two ways out of your home, make sure you practice an escape plan, a meeting place outside,” Ostroskey said. Boston’s fire commissioner also told Boston 25 News that they have worked it out that most schools will have limited things hanging on the walls to help limit any fast-spreading fire potential because of some of the protocols in place.

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